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Thanks for Saving Me

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Midoriya Izuku is nineteen years old, an unremarkable college sophomore in everything aside from the nature of his unremarkability.

He's quirkless. At worst, a magnet for bullying, but nowadays he's mostly just a scrawny, shortish young man, easily and quietly dismissed by those around him. He double majors in Chemistry (with an emphasis in thermodynamics) and Hero Studies. He's a member of the Pro Hero Fan Association at his college—he would like to be president of the club by his senior year, but currently some of its members are skeptical of how qualified he is to discuss heroes without having a quirk of his own.

Right now, he's content to attend club meetings and contribute whatever he can, most specifically his vast and extensive collection of All Might merch and knowledge. All Might has been his idol since early childhood, and the man's decline in the last decade has not done anything to diminish Izuku's literal hero worship. But a lot of his peers have started to move on to the newer, younger heroes. Even Izuku has his favorites among the new crop.

Mostly, he likes the Yuuei heroes, because that's where All Might went. The academy is still famous for the talent it breeds, and many of its new graduates are already predicted to be announced as nominees for multiple awards categories at the Annual Japan Hero's Gala later in the year. Considering how young most of them are, this is a notable honor.

Uravity had quickly stolen Izuku's heart (not just because she's cute! Although… yes, she is very cute), and he likes Ingenium a lot because of his extreme earnestness. Lemillion is basically unstoppable, and Ground Zero and Red Riot are awesome—they're everyone's favorites, of course. Bakugou Katsuki is actually from the same hometown as Izuku, and Izuku even went to his old middle school, though that was years later. Izuku has been one of his biggest defenders for years even when nobody else really liked him, but now that he's one of the top five pros everyone's jumping on his bandwagon.

Even though he wasn't a Yuuei student, Izuku likes Hawks for the cool factor, though he thinks Hawks's former sidekick turned pro hero Tsukuyomi is cooler (most people… disagree, so Izuku tends to keep this opinion to himself). On the flipside, he never really got that invested in the new #1 hero after All Might—Endeavor. Maybe the blow of losing All Might as the Symbol of Peace was just too bitter at the time, but Endeavor was always such a different kind of hero that Izuku's obsession never kicked off in the same way.

Endeavor's son, however, is a different story.

Izuku's uncontested favorite after All Might has been, for at least the past six or seven years, the pro hero Shouto. Todoroki had just started to rise up through the ranks when Izuku was entering middle school. The more he did, and the more Izuku learned about him, the more he found himself having the traitorous thought that Todoroki was the actual coolest.

This had made him feel guilty at first—All Might was, and would always be, the coolest! But there's just something about Todoroki. The hair, the eyes, the scar, and that quirk. Izuku has spent years analyzing it, pouring hours into research, scribbling away in his notebooks.

The motive behind his obsession is embarrassing. Todoroki's track record as a hero alone is enough for no one to question why Izuku likes him so much: the #5 pro after Ground Zero, Hawks, Endeavor, and Lemillion; an intimidatingly long and ever expanding list of rescues and villain arrests; a not insignificant reputation as an eligible bachelor and one of the most beautiful faces in the hero business—the reasons go on and on.

But Todoroki became Izuku's (second) favorite just after his debut, back when Izuku was still in grade school. There's an old video online—newsreel footage, taken just after a fairly large scale villain attack in the middle of the city. The video is mainly an interview with Endeavor but the scene of the attack is visible in the background, with heroes still helping with the clean up.

For a very brief moment during the video (judicial slowing and pausing is required), Todoroki appears in the background. He had still been something of a nobody at the time, though afforded a bit more attention due to his family connections. But at that moment, nobody was watching him. Nobody saw him stop what he was doing upon noticing a little girl, uninjured but alone, sitting off to the side of the crime scene. Nobody saw him crouch down to talk to the girl, before picking her up and walking out of frame.

Izuku had scoured the internet for news articles, before finally finding a tiny footnote in one paper from a small local news outlet, just a couple of sentences, from the mother of the girl. She had been separated from her daughter, taken to the hospital after she'd been knocked unconscious during the attack. Todoroki had personally brought her daughter to her.

Right at that moment, Izuku fell. In years to come, people would always point to one of Todoroki's defining features as a pro being his cold and aloof personality. It's part of his allure. But Izuku has always known there's another side to him, as warm as they come.

So, naturally, he pretty much flung himself headfirst into revolving his life around Todoroki. Half-Cold Half-Hot is the whole reason he became a chemistry major in the first place. He picked up Hero Studies not as a hobby or afterthought, but hopefully to propel along his ideal career path. His dream is to one day work for the Todoroki hero agency, developing support items for Shouto himself. He does like chemistry as well; all the possibilities for theoretical-to-practical application interests him greatly, and gives his brain an outlet when it starts working overtime (like, for instance, obsessing over which awards Todoroki will likely be nominated for—and win!—at the Hero's Gala).

When he's not in class, Izuku has a part time job on weekends as a university tour guide for his school. He mostly likes his job; the high school kids and their parents don't know he's quirkless and they usually don't find out over the course of an afternoon. Mostly the parents just have a lot of questions he's not really qualified to answer, and the kids are impressed by him simply because he's in college. At least, they are at first; his standard tour guide uniform of a short-sleeve gingham shirt and khakis is not exactly the height of cool, and he's fairly awkward and easily excitable, even at his best. The illusion of Chill Older Guy usually fades pretty quickly. Generally, they only make fun of him when his back is turned, and not very loudly, so it's not so bad.

It's an otherwise typical Saturday afternoon on campus. He's taking a group of high schoolers around the science building to show them some of the facilities, and they're a pretty attentive group, asking lots of questions, although a couple of them have been imitating him and giggling about it whenever he accidentally talks too fast and starts stammering. They don't seem to mean any real harm and he just smiles sheepishly and reminds himself to calm down and speak at a normal pace whenever it happens.

They're in the chemistry building, Izuku's home turf, and nearing the end of the tour when the ground floor suddenly explodes without warning.

Izuku has spent his entire life being obsessed with heroes. Now, during his first encounter with real, live villains, his first thought is:

I could never have been a pro.

It's terrifying. The ground keeps shaking beneath his feet—he can't tell if it's more explosions, or if structural damage to the building has weakened it to the point of collapse. There is smoke everywhere, choking him. People are screaming, crying—mostly kids a lot younger than him, too young, afraid they're going to die.

Izuku's second thought is: I have to get them out of here.

He sucks in a lungful of air, coughs violently, and calls out, "Everyone!" Then again, as loud as he can, when no one hears him the first time. "LISTEN! We need to go out the fire escape and get down to the ground. Quickly!"

People start to take notice, possibly because he seems to be the only one doing more than panicking. Though, to be clear—he is definitely panicking. But he's the only person who knows this building, so he's got to act.

He keeps his voice loud, jumps up and down to make sure the kids can all see him as he herds them out of the classroom and down the hall—he's not very tall. He reaches the fire exit door at the end of the corridor and flings it open, to be met by blessed fresh air. The scene outside is a nightmare—other buildings have been attacked, and are on fire. Helicopters already hover above the campus, news crews filming the carnage from a safe height.  

"One at a time, please don't push!" he calls, as the kids all start to file out onto the fire escape ahead of him. Thank god, thank god, they're going to make it out.

He has this thought a split second before the most violent explosion yet rocks the building, knocking him to his hands and knees.

Screaming erupts again, but this time it's accompanied by the horrifying shriek of grating metal, as the fire escape begins to tear away from the side of the building right before Izuku's eyes. Half his tour group is already on it.

"NO!" he screams, completely helpless, useless—as he watches it fall.

And then, someone saves them.

There's a crackling, crystalline sound, the most familiar, wonderful sound to ever reach Izuku's ears. It comes a split second before a massive slab of gleaming ice rises with blinding speed, appearing almost out of nowhere to bracket the fire escape, holding it fast and secure against the side of the building.

"I have it!" a voice shouts, and Izuku was wrong—that's the most familiar, most wonderful sound he's ever heard, and he looks and sees him.

Beneath the fire escape, looking up at them all, stands their savior: pro hero Shouto.

"Oh my god," Izuku whispers.

Then he realizes he's going to have to save his fanboy meltdown for later, because he can't tell his mom about this if he's fucking dead.

He jumps to his feet and starts directing the kids back down the fire escape. "Wrap your sleeves or your shirts around your hands!" he yells. "And watch your step on the ice!" He knows from his research that Todoroki's ice is cold enough that once exposed to outside air, the surface will begin melting instantly, causing it to become slippery.

They've almost all made it onto the fire escape, when one of the last girls to climb on turns to him, weeping openly.

"You have to get on—" Izuku starts to tell her, but she cuts him off.

"We—we got separated," she gasps, "and I don't see her, I don't think she went down yet—"

"What?" Izuku asks. "Who?"

"M-my friend—"

He feels fear mounting again. He recognizes this girl, because she and her friend were the two that kept mimicking him. He has gotten a pretty good look at everyone as they fled onto the fire escape. He has not seen the other girl.

Someone screams from behind them—from inside the building.

"Fuck," he says. "Okay—go, you need to go. I'm gonna get your friend!"

"You are?!"

"Just go!"

He only hesitates for a second, long enough to make sure she starts out onto the stairs, before turning and racing back through the door. It's bad inside. The air is thick and smoky, enough to make his eyes water, and the last blast that rocked the building seems to have crumbled parts of it. Sections of the roof and hallway have caved in, resulting in a huge pile of rubble. And then he sees what he's looking for, and his heart jumps into his throat.

There's a girl, struggling and trapped beneath some of the rubble. She must have been one of the last ones in the line to get out, and nobody noticed in the explosion. Izuku rushes to her.

"Are you hurt?" he yells, and she startles so badly upon seeing him that it almost scares him in return, before she starts sobbing. He can't even make out any words. Izuku takes a deep breath. "Hey, it's okay now—I-I'm here!"

All Might's catchphrase blunders leaving his mouth, stammered and hardly heroic. But the girl stops panicking long enough to listen to him.

"More help is on the way. But I need you to tell me if you're hurt!"

"M-my leg hurts," she says. "And I can't move!"

The pieces of rubble she's stuck under are undoubtedly heavy. Izuku swallows. "Okay," he says, "okay, just stay calm, and I'm gonna get you out."

He doesn't know if he can do it. But he has to try, or at least, make her think he can. He can't just let her be afraid.

He hefts some of the loose slabs of concrete off the pile as best he can. Oof, those are already nearly too heavy for him, but he'll never be able to do it all at once. His palms get scraped to hell clearing things away, but finally, it's just the last toppled chunk of the wall left. Gritting his teeth against the pain in his hands, he plants his feet, grips the edge, and heaves.

Right away, he can tell it's not going to happen. He swears and strains, sweat pouring off him. He swears to himself he'll put in more hours at the gym after this, if he survives. But the concrete isn't moving, no matter how hard he pushes. The girl watches him with terrified eyes.

"Please don't let me die," she begs.

"I'm not going anywhere! I promise—" he wheezes, and then throws all his weight into it, "I promise I won't leave you!"

The concrete starts to shift. Izuku is so surprised that he almost loses his grip on it, but a voice calls out to him to "Move!"

He gasps and spins around. He's no longer alone in the hallway. Todoroki has arrived, ice lancing forward to lend support to the crumbled concrete, before it spikes upward, a protective sheet forming over the girl as more ice pushes the rubble away with sheer force, power unrestrained. Izuku wants to cry with relief, and shock.

"Crawl!" Izuku urges the girl, and he reaches out to her as she scrambles free of the debris. He helps pull her, supporting her as she gets to her feet with a wince. Nothing looks broken, but her ankle may be sprained. "Okay, you go—out the door at the end of the—"

"Look out!" Todoroki shouts, and before Izuku can tell what's happening, a wall of ice rises in front of them. But an explosion follows immediately, and the ice barrier simply shatters.

In the back of his mind, Izuku registers that something is strange. There is no light, no heat, accompanying the blast. But then the dust clears, and all his thoughts are wiped away as he stares down the hallway right at one of the villains responsible for everything. All he has room for is fear.

It's hard to tell if the villain is a man or a woman; they're covered from head to toe in some kind of formless, black getup. They raise a hand—or what would have been a hand on a normal person. At the end of their arm is a strange, whirling black mass, like looking down a darkened tunnel.

"R-run," the girl says tearfully.

"No—" Todoroki starts to say.

"Exit is too far, his quirk is long range," Izuku rattles off in one breath. "He just blew up the ice from that distance, and she's injured. We'll never make it." Trying to carry the girl will slow him down too much, and Todoroki can't pick her up and use his quirk at the same time. Izuku pushes the girl behind himself nonetheless. It probably won't do anything to save her.

"Classroom," Todoroki says under his breath. The black mass at the end of the villain's arm starts to shudder alarmingly. "GO!"

Todoroki throws out more ice, this time aiming for the already weakened support structure of the building. The rest of the hallway crumbles, as Izuku and the girl race for the nearest classroom doorway, her arm over his shoulder. He hears the explosion, and turns just in time to see a blast of wind send shards of concrete and ice flying. Todoroki is caught in it; he's spun around by the force, his costume tearing to shreds. He staggers, falling through the doorway, and Izuku slams it shut and locks it, for all the good that will do.

They have probably seconds, maybe a minute tops, to figure out what to do before the villain blasts away the rubble Todoroki caved in to get to them. Izuku tries to take a deep calming breath, and smells, beneath the smoke, a musky, sweet odor.

His plan forms.

"Are you okay?" Izuku asks Todoroki. The pro hero is slumped alarmingly on the floor, leaning against the wall, teeth grit in a grimace as he clutches his right arm. He doesn't seem to be able to stand.

"Right side," Todoroki says. "Can't feel it. Don't think I can use my ice. When the villain comes in, I'll use my left so you two need to take cover—"

"No," Izuku says hurriedly. He can barely contain his panicked glee over the phrase "use my left" because—Todoroki. Is talking to him. About his quirk. He would be convinced this is a dream if he wasn't so absolutely sure he's about to die. He has to focus. He waves his finger in the air vaguely. "Do you smell that? The sweet smell?"

"Yes," Todoroki replies. He's staring, famously recognizable eyes sharp and all attention focused on Izuku, which is something Izuku can't afford to process right now or he'll stop functioning.

"That's ethylene," he says. "It must be leaking from somewhere and it's flammable as hell."

"Shit," Todoroki mutters.

"It's fine," Izuku says, "because it's also gonna save us."

Todoroki's eyebrows raise. "How?"

Another explosion blasts down the hallway—likely the villain clearing a path to them, but Izuku shudders to think of what would have happened if they'd still been standing out in the open. He needs to move fast, or he might still get to find out.

"Actually, it's not, exactly—but its hydrate, diethyl ether, sure can," he explains, because if he just keeps talking, maybe he can keep calm enough, have the presence of mind to do this.  "And if they're keeping some in here—which they should be, if I'm smelling ethylene—we can use it to knock this bastard out cold." He looks at the girl stuck there with them. "What's your name?"

"H-Hana…" she whispers.

"Okay!" Izuku smiles at her. "Hana-chan, I really, really could use an extra pair of hands to help find this hydrate. Be extra careful, and start looking in that cabinet over there, okay? It will be clearly labeled. Diethyl ether." He spells it out for her just to make sure she's got it.

The chemicals in this lab aren't a joke. He hates that he doesn't have time to give the girl safety gear, at least a pair of gloves, but they're already opening shelves, searching frantically. Another explosion goes off outside, and Hana yelps in fright.

"Hana, do you know what a hydrate is?" Izuku calls to her.

"What?" she asks, bewildered. "N-no…"

"Well," he says, trying to ignore the way his own hands are shaking, "a hydrate is just a substance that contains water. They're created by adding water, or its elements, to another molecule."

"O… okay…" Hana whimpers.

"Yup, pretty cool stuff!" Izuku says. Another boom, closer. He flinches, and keeps going. "S-so," he croaks, "diethyl ether is a liquid f-formed out of the—the vapor-phase hydration of ethylene. It used to be used as an anesthetic."

"You mean," Hana says, "it'll put him to sleep?"

"Exactly," Izuku tells her. He glances at Todoroki to see that Todoroki is still watching him intently.

His eyes are really, really beautiful. Izuku has never seen them up close before, only in videos and magazines.

There are footsteps outside, and he wrenches his gaze away. A shadow seeps into the room beneath the crack under the door. There is someone standing right outside it. Izuku's heart hammers so hard he is sure the villain on the other side can hear it.

"S-senpai," Hana says, so quiet he can barely hear her. "I found it."

Izuku reaches out without looking at her, eyes still fixed on the door. He feels a bottle settle into his palm.

The door blasts open. With a monumental effort, Todoroki pulls himself upright, planting himself between the civilians and the villain, ready to fight with his bare hands—but then Izuku pops the cap off the bottle, pulls his arm back, and flings it as hard as he can over Todoroki's shoulder.

It hits the villain square in the head and shatters. They stagger backwards, and Todoroki charges, lunging clear off his feet to bodycheck them out of the door right as they fire off another explosion from the vortex stump of their arm. It blasts so close to Izuku that it slices a cut open on his cheek, narrowly misses Hana, and blows a gigantic hole through the back wall of the building. Izuku stands there, paralyzed for a brief second, before recovering.

"Shouto!"

He flings himself through the doorway and sees Todoroki lying next to the villain on the floor. The hero struggles to sit up, but the villain doesn't move.

"It worked," Todoroki says, as Izuku rushes to his side. "They're passed out."

Izuku collapses to his knees next to him. "Holy shit," he whispers, "holy shit, holy shit, holy—"

"Hey," Todoroki says, and a steadying hand lands on Izuku's shoulder. "Take a deep breath. Slowly."

Izuku nods, inhaling deeply. He needs to make sure Hana is okay. He needs to stop trembling. He needs to get out of this fucking building. He needs—

"You saved my life," Todoroki says.

Izuku freezes. Then he looks up.

Todoroki Shouto is staring at him, his eyes calm but wide, dust and soot all over his face. His perfect, handsome face. He's more beautiful in person than Izuku could have imagined, even now when he looks more disheveled than Izuku has ever seen him when he's staring out of the pages of some glossy magazine spread. He looks older than he usually does in those photoshoots, too, maybe because of the lack of makeup, or possibly due to the extremely recent near-death experience. He's also huge, up close; not quite as big as his six and a half foot father, but still tall and broad and sturdy.

"You just saved all of us," Todoroki says again. "What's your name?"

"M-Midoriya," Izuku chokes out. "Midoriya Izuku."  

Todoroki nods. "Midoriya. Thank you."

Izuku bursts into tears. Without thinking, he flings his arms around Todoroki, sobbing disgustingly into the older man's shoulder. After a second, he feels Todoroki's arm come up, and a warm hand pats him soothingly on the back.

"It's alright, now," Todoroki just keeps repeating softly. It's a different kind of reassurance than All Might's, less bombastic, but no less comforting. Izuku just clings to him and cries, and Todoroki doesn't push him away.

The other pros find them like that in just a few minute's time. They bring Izuku, Todoroki, and Hana out to safety, where Hana is reunited with her friend. All the other kids are safe, and ambulances have started arriving in droves. Izuku is almost immediately mobbed by paramedics, and he doesn't even have the strength remaining to say anything as Todoroki moves off in the direction of the other heroes where the news crews are already gathering. His movements, especially along his right side, are still very stiff.

The paramedics check Izuku out thoroughly to make sure he's okay and doesn't need to go to the hospital. They bandage his hands and give him water and wrap a blanket around his shoulders. He sits in the back of an ambulance, kicking his feet aimlessly. He can't stop shaking.

Nearly a half hour has passed when someone drops down to sit next to him, startling him. It's Todoroki, again. Izuku stares at him. The danger is behind them, which means Izuku is now all too acutely aware of the fact that he has to exert the mental effort to form sounds into syllables to make words to speak to Todoroki Shouto, in the flesh.

"Hello, again," Todoroki says.

Izuku gurgles.

Todoroki is there to get looked over by the medics as well, which they do with brusque efficiency, checking his reflexes, and any larger injuries. When he's deemed fine, they move off, leaving Izuku alone with him. Alone with Todoroki. Todoroki's costume, shredded on top after the villain's first explosion, exposes a lot of bare skin. Izuku is spiraling.

"How are you doing?" Todoroki asks him.

"Um," Izuku says, his voice coming out a shrill squeak. How… is it possible for a human being to be so attractive? How is Todoroki's voice so low, and so nice? "I… don't… know."

Todoroki snorts, and Izuku panics internally. He must sound so dumb. Todoroki must think he is an idiot.

"Yeah, that's fair," Todoroki says.

"It—" Izuku gapes at him. "It is?"

"Villain encounters suck," Todoroki says with a shrug. "And that's even when you're trained to handle them. You aren't, but what you did back there? That was impressive."

Izuku's face explodes into heat. "N-n-no!" He waves his hands frantically. "Me? I didn't do anything! You saved everyone on the fire escape, and you made sure we didn't get hit by all those crazy explosions, and you freed Hana-chan—"

"I was wondering where you went," Todoroki says, and Izuku falls silent. "I saw you at the top of the stairs, then the next second you were gone. That's when the other girl came running up to me. She told me you went back to save her friend."

"I—I tried," Izuku says, completely ashamed at the reminder. "But I couldn't. We would've both died if you hadn't—"

"You went back," Todoroki repeats. "And then you were there to save us both, when I couldn't do anything."

Izuku ducks his head, his lower lip wobbling. "That was just… really lucky."

"It is lucky, that you were there," Todoroki says, and then nudges Izuku's shoulder with his own. "Guess I owe you."

"What?" Izuku jerks around to look at him. "You don't—Shou—Todoroki-san—"

"Todoroki is fine," Todoroki says, with a look that suggests he's trying not to laugh.

"Todoroki-san," Izuku says again, emphatically. "You don't owe me anything. Without you, we'd all be de-dead." He swallows. Saying it out loud is a bit terrifying, even after the fact.

"Yes," Todoroki says, "just like I would have been if you hadn't been here."

Izuku opens his mouth to argue further and then stops himself at the look on Todoroki's face. He settles for a tiny nod, and staring at his feet.

"Midoriya."

Izuku looks up at him again and almost passes out when he realizes how close Todoroki is—it only gets worse when Todoroki reaches over to grab his face, holding Izuku's chin in his hand so he can turn Izuku's head to the side. Todoroki narrows his eyes, peering at the long scratch on Izuku's cheek.

"They didn't give you anything for that?" Izuku shakes his head and Todoroki clicks his tongue in annoyance. "Hold on."

He clicks open one of the little metal canisters on his belt to procure a square band-aid patch and tiny tube of disinfectant. Painstakingly, he squeezes a little of the paste onto a cotton swab. His hands are very steady, even if they are a bit too big for the task. Izuku watches him, transfixed, and realizes he's got his tongue stuck between his teeth in concentration.

Oh, he's… he's so cute.

"Turn," Todoroki instructs him, and Izuku does as asked. "Sorry if it stings."

"It's okay," Izuku says. He closes his eyes as Todoroki gently swabs at the cut to clear away the blood and grime. The disinfectant stings a little, but then fades to a tingly coolness. Todoroki finishes up by affixing the bandage over the cut. His left hand is warm as his fingers brush Izuku's cheek, just barely.

"Be sure to put more disinfectant on it when you change the band-aid," Todoroki tells him.

"Okay," Izuku whispers. He can't manage to get any more volume to come out than that. "Thank you."

"Do you have your phone on you?"

"Yes," Izuku says, surprised.

"Can I see it?"

Speechless, Izuku fishes his phone out of his pocket and hands it over. Todoroki fiddles with it as he nervously watches, before handing it back a moment later. Izuku stares at the screen.

Todoroki has created a new contact. For himself. Todoroki Shouto, and a phone number, right there in Izuku's phone.

Todoroki Shouto just gave Izuku his phone number.

"Can I trust you with that?" Todoroki asks him. Izuku nods lightning fast, staring down at his phone in shock. "Good. Text me, if you want, so I can save your contact. I'll be in touch."

"W-with me?" Izuku asks.

"No," Todoroki says, "with the other guy who saved my life today."

"R-right…" Izuku stammers.

Todoroki pats him on the shoulder again and then stands, ready to depart. Izuku needs to—say—something. Anything. Todoroki starts to cross the grass.

"Todoroki-san, wait!"

Todoroki turns. Izuku hops to his feet, out of the back of the ambulance, and bows as low as he can without toppling over.

"I'm—" He struggles to get the words out. "I wish it could've been under better circumstances, but I'm so—so glad I could meet you!"

Todoroki nods. "You know," he says, "in retrospect, I don't mind the circumstances all that much myself. Take care, Midoriya." He bows, then; not quite as low, but respectful all the same. Then he waves goodbye and is gone, soon swallowed up by mobs of more important people who need him.

In his wake, Izuku feels like he is floating. All the people bustling around seem to have forgotten him, so he starts on the trek back to his apartment. He needs to call his mom; surely she's seen the news by now. He looks at his phone again and realization sets in once more.

Todoroki said to text him.

"Oh, god," Izuku murmurs. His hands are shaking again—maybe even worse than they had when he was being attacked. "Oh, jeez, okay—okay, I just gotta do this…"

He taps on Todoroki's contact and sends a very quick and hopefully not embarrassing message: Hi, Todoroki-san. This is Midoriya. Thank you again for everything!!!

He's already back in his apartment (lying on his bed and staring at the ceiling, still in a state of shock) by the time he gets a response. It sends his heart up into the stratosphere once again.

Hello, Midoriya. I should have said back there: I'm glad we could meet today, too.

Izuku touches his fingers to the band-aid again. He imagines he can sense the lingering presence of warm fingers there; it makes his head spin, and his chest feels light and like it's being tightly constricted at the same time.

He might have almost died today, but Izuku has never felt happier—because now he's had the chance to see for himself that Todoroki Shouto is every bit the hero he has always believed in.